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ECOterra News and Articles
  • Posted by Mike Cecchini

What Makes Green Homebuilding Great Homebuilding?

These factors are key to ensuring that a green, sustainable home will not end up sitting around unsold

We have said it a million times by now: Green homebuilding is on the rise. It is not just within the United States; Navigant Research reports that the market for zero net energy homes will grow by at least 28 percent between now and 2028.

With this type of homebuilding already expected to expand, if not envelope, the housing market, it pays (literally) to take a moment and figure out what goes into a great, green home.

It is about far more than installing a piece of smart home technology that better helps homeowners to monitor their energy usage. Green, sustainable homes are being built to work well from the moment they break ground until long after the keys are handed to the new homeowners.

Building green is great but the fact is that it has to sell. This is often what sets apart great sustainable home building – whether the home sells well. These are some of the main factors we have noticed that go into building a truly efficient and successful green home build.

Unique Floor Plans and Smart Land Use

When one drives around to view homes today, they are likely to see a growing number of efficient homes that boast unique floor plans – including those that build up instead of out.

The growing number of three- and even four-story homes are being created in an effort to accomplish two goals: making the most use of less land and designing a home to be as efficient as possible.

This is not to say there are not any green homes that are on the shorter side. There are plenty of of energy-efficient home communities that boast two floors, or even only one floor.

The commonality between taller versus shorter green homes is that they all seek to be as efficient as possible in the way the homes are designed; the difference is in how much land they are able to use. The higher-built homes (a rising number of them found in California) can include unique designs at a lower price, thanks to the fact that they offer as much living space as a larger home but at less cost because their land lot is smaller than its compatriots.

Whether tall or short though, the key is that the home’s design must aid its efficiency. The floor plans we see in today’s sustainable homes seek to aid air flow, make the most of the sunlight they are exposed to, optimize living space and offer more storage to potential residents etc.

When these homes are designed to be efficient they are also meant to do so in a way that catches the eye of the buyer and allows them to imagine life in a more eco-friendly (if less common) type of layout.

Sustainability From the Ground Up

It has become a well-known fact that sustainability starts the moment a builder breaks ground on a new home. Green, sustainable homes that sell well aren’t just made with the addition of the latest tech; they are made when a builder goes the extra mile and makes sure their build is as efficient and eco-friendly as possible from the moment they start.

In the words of USGBC’s Tim Barber, “We have learned that homebuyers prize locally-sourced materials, natural light, indoor-outdoor living, and low-maintenance properties.”

When a builder prioritizes finding sustainable building materials for every aspect of their build, creates an efficient floor plan that optimizes energy, and then tops it off with the technology that helps to manage all the homes resources well, they can be sure that buyers will think twice before they leave without putting their names on a waiting list.

Justify The Price

Of course, with green and sustainable home building comes the ever-present hurdle of the higher price tag. It costs to ensure you use sustainably sourced materials, seal your home well, include the best in air quality control and energy efficient technologies and more.

“Sustainable design and architecture are definitely on the rise, but the industry is always affected by the marketplace and affordability of these methods,” states Ameen Ayoub. The key here is being able to justify that to the buyer.

Any builder, developer, real estate agent, and so on should be able to have a well-informed conversation with their potential buyers that answers the question that will likely be ever-present on their minds when they visit: “Why is the price so high?” If the person being questioned has the ability to answer this query acceptably and in a way that educates their buyers about why the price is justified, they are off to the races.

What is more, if a buyer is able to understand not only why the initial price is high but also how it saves them money in the long run, one may want to have paperwork nearby to add them to the interest list or to the waiting list to choose their lot or home.

These ideas are not new. Unique and efficient home floor plans, proper use of land, sustainability from the ground up and buyer education are essential to a green home build that sells well, and most of the industry probably knows this. The question will ultimately end up being, “What will come next to go one step further and one step greener than before?”

Brianna Fries is the Editor for Green Home Builder Magazine.

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